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Tag:Boston Celtics
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:21 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 12:44 pm
 

Playoff Fix: Celtics look to flip momentum

The Boston Celtics look to even their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.  

pierce-game-1

MIAMI LEADS 1-0


One Big Thing:  Game 1 win was all about the Big Mo: Momentum. It was the perfect, confidence-boosting start for the Heat. Their dominant, level-headed performance in a physical game went a long way in answering questions about whether they'd fall apart or get bullied in the big moment. The Heat's bench production -- spearheaded by James Jones -- proved they're capable of playing a full 48-minute game against Boston. Game 2 should serve as a hinge on the series. If Miami can repeat -- or approximate -- their Game 1 performance, Boston will be facing an inordinate amount of pressure when the series returns to Massachusetts. If Boston manages to even things up, all of Miami's old doubts -- Are we deep enough? Are we tough enough? Can we win on the road? -- will arise again.

 The X-Factor:  Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has been identified as the single X-Factor in the Eastern Conference playoffs since back in early April. That's only more true now that the Celtics are staring at the potential of an 0-2 deficit. In Game 1, Rondo was limited by foul trouble and shot poorly, finishing with eight points on 3-for-10 shooting. The Celtics never need him to be a go-to scoring threat, but he should dominate his match-up against the likes of Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. But sometimes it's as simple as staying on the court. Rondo played just 32 minutes, making it difficult for Boston to establish its offensive rhythm and dictate tempo, especially given the emotionally charged Game 1 atmosphere and the fact that Dwyane Wade was having a Supermanlike game for the Heat. 

The Adjustment:  I hate to make this one about the officials, but the biggest adjustment will be in how these two teams are treated by the zebras. In Game 1, four technical fouls and a flagrant foul were dished out, but the league office stepped in after the fact to downgrade and rescind some of the harsher in-game rulings. Boston, clearly, is hoping the game is whistled a bit more loosely, so that there isn't a repeat of Paul Pierce's needless ejection. 

The Sticking Point:  Will Wade fall back to Earth? And, if so, how far will he fall? He was dominant with the ball and with his play-making. He set up LeBron James beautifully on multiple occasions while making Ray Allen's life miserable. This is where the whack-a-mole Magic of the Big 3 comes into play. Should the Celtics devote more attention to Wade, they'll be opening doors for James, who had an off night by his standards, scoring 22 points on 19 shots, and Chris Bosh, who was big on the glass but provided little scoring pop. Miami needed every last Wade bucket on Game 1. He did his part. Who's up next?


Posted on: May 1, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Heat F James Jones delivers big against Celtics

Miami Heat forward James Jones came up huge in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics. Posted by Ben Golliver. james-jones-happy

It's not often that a player who averages 5.9 points per game off the bench finds his way into the headlines following his team's biggest game of the season. But that's life on Sunday for Miami Heat forward James Jones.

The Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 99-90 to take Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. It was a major win from a momentum and confidence-building standpoint, as the Heat struggled mightily during the regular season against the Celtics. Afterwards, the post-game praise from two of the game's greats went to Jones' performance off the bench.

"J.J. probably had the best game of anybody," Heat forward LeBron James told the Associated Press on a night when Dwyane Wade scored 38 points. 

"James Jones' 25 points off the bench was key for the Miami Heat, as was their execution of the drive-and-kick offense," NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson added on Twitter.

Like his Heat team as a whole, Jones struggled against the Celtics during the regular season, scoring just 15 points combined in Miami's four games against Boston, shooting 4-for-12 from the field. In characteristic fashion, all 12 of Jones' attempts during the regular season were three-pointers, as his role as the weakside corner three-point specialist is clearly defined. His job is to make defenses pay for over-committing on James and Wade. Knock down the shots when they're open. but no freelancing, under any circumstances.

On Sunday, Jones played that part to a T, shooting 5-7 from deep on his way to 25 points, and exceeding the number of field goals made and points he registered in all four regular season games against the Celtics combined. Jones' 25 points were not only a season-high, they were also the most points the journeyman forward has scored since he hit 25 for the Phoenix Suns more than four years ago, on Jan. 7, 2007. The AFP notes that Jones' 25 points was a franchise record for points scored off the bench during a playoff game.

Jones also single-handedly outscored Boston's bench, 25-23. That was particularly huge, given that most analysts agree that Boston is the significantly deeper team in this series.

His Game 1 shot chart is beautiful and it comes with no surprises. All seven of James' attempts came from deep, meaning Jones has now taken 19 three-pointers and zero two-pointers against the Celtics in five games this season. This chart simply reinforces the idea that there is something to be said for singular brilliance. it doesn't take an all-around game to be a game-changer in the playoffs.

Take a look.

james-jones
Posted on: May 1, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 7:38 pm
 

History says not to panic about the Celtics yet

Posted by Royce Young



Saturday, May 1, 2010. The Boston Celtics drop Game 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-96 after a dominant second half in which the Cavs outscored Boston 58-39.

I remember all the reaction after it. LeBron has done it. The Cavs are different. These Celtics are vulnerable. The guard is changing. I remember all the chatter, all the reaction, after Game 1. And what happened next? The Celtics went on to finish LeBron, and the Cavs as we know them, off in six games.

Now. I'm not at all inclined to say the same fate is awaiting LeBron and his new team after their 99-90 win over the Celtics in Game 1 Sunday. And yes, I'm the same dude that just got through writing about how Game 1 could decide this series in the end. (Tone, statement, momentum and all that Jazz was my thinking there.) And I'm not saying it won't.

But let's pump the brakes on thinking at all that the Celtics are overmatched here. Maybe before we all say, "Looks like the Heat are the superior team after all," we let Game 2 happen. This was played on Miami's home floor, remember. And they still have to replicate this three more times to get past Boston.

LeBron's Cavs weren't able to do that. The Celtics are masters of adjustment, and will have a little something different Tuesday. The goal for any road team in the first two games is to win one and claim homecourt advantage. And that opportunity is still there for the Celtics.

A big reason LeBron made the switch to join Dwyane Wade is precisely what happened Sunday against the Celtics. He had a great deal of help, and the Heat were able to put it to the Celtics on both ends. Rajon Rondo didn't control the game and save for some spectacular-but-normal-for-him shooting from Ray Allen, Boston stayed close. Other than that, the Boston offense stalled. The Celtics didn't get to the free throw line (just 18 attempts), shot just 42.7 percent and only had three players in double-figures. Rondo's line -- eight points and seven assists -- really says it all.

It also says to me that the Celtics didn't play their best game. It does feel like there has been a shift in this matchup from the control Boston had in the first three meetings. It does feel like the Heat have found some confidence and swagger against the Celtics. But it also doesn't feel like this series is even close to over. You know that, and I'm insulting your intelligence by telling you, but I feel like I need to say it.

I picked the Heat to win in seven games, and my mind hasn't really changed much from that. The Heat held serve on their end because of 38 from Wade, 22 from LeBron and 25 from... James Jones? See, just that part alone should make Celtics fans feel a bit better. That's not happening again.

Again, I said myself how important this game was. Much more so for the Heat. Lose Game 1 and whoa boy, are they hearing about it. Lose Game 1 and now the Celtics are playing with house money. Lose Game 1, and it's very likely the Heat are in a hole that, mentally, they can't get out of.

They didn't though. They took care of business. But I think the Heat would admit, the Celtics can, and will, play better. It's a four-point game and the Heat scored the first point. I can promise you, Doc Rivers isn't panicking. Neither is Paul Pierce, Allen or Kevin Garnett.

But Game 2 is where the Heat are going to have to make their money. LeBron's Cavs conceded in that situation last year, and it ended up costing them. Boston took its talents to South Beach with a hope to win two, but with a goal to take just one. That opportunity is still there. And it comes down to Tuesday night. After that, maybe we'll be able to draw a real conclusion or two.
Posted on: May 1, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 1:56 am
 

Paul Pierce ejected after screen on Dwyane Wade

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce was ejected after setting a screen on Dwyane Wade. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Any time an All-Star is ejected from a pivotal playoff game, there's bound to be controversy. But Sunday's Game 1 showdown between Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade will have people talking for days.

With Miami leading 87-74 at the 7:00 mark of the fourth quarter, Pierce set a pair of screens on Wade. After the second screen, Wade was whistled for a foul for running into Pierce and the two All-Stars exchanged some words. Without hesitation, the baseline official, Ed Malloy, whistled a double technical on both players. 

The only problem? Pierce had received a technical earlier in the game for getting into the face of Heat forward James Jones. By rule, Pierce was ejected from the game for receiving his second technical foul. 

For a full explanation of both technicals on Pierce from Dan Crawford, Sunday's officiating crew chief, click here. Regarding the second technical, Crawford stated: "It's what we call a verbal taunt. He directed profanity towards (Dwyane) Wade. And in the rulebook, that is a verbal taunt. And it just so happened to be Pierce's second technical foul." 

For more on the post-game reaction to the call, read this column by Jamey Eisenberg for CBSSports.com.

Here's video of the screen and scene that got Pierce tossed. 



Pierce left the game with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Posted on: May 1, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Rivers: Shaq out Game 1, will play by Game 3

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers says center Shaquille O'Neal will not play in Game 1 against the Miami Heat. Posted by Ben Golliver. shaq

The endless wait for Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal continues. The 39-year-old center, who has seen just five minutes of action since Feb. 1 and missed the entire first round series against the New York Knicks, has been dealing with foot and Achilles injuries.

ESPNBoston.com reports on Sunday that Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes O'Neal will return no later than Game 3, which will tip on Saturday, May 7.
"He's getting very close," Rivers said. "Honestly, we had to actually make a decision today, so that's better than what we've had to do in the past. He's getting close. Maybe next game. If not, I would say for sure Game 3."
"He's getting there," Rivers said. "He tried to do some stuff, but he keeps getting really sore afterward. So we're just going to wait."
The site also notes: "The biggest hurdle appears to be post-activity soreness."

Without O'Neal, the Celtics will make due with veteran center Jermaine O'Neal in the middle and reserve forward Glen Davis, and sprinkle in some Nenad Krstic when necessary. The Heat aren't exactly loaded with talent at the five spot, but Joel Anthony is a presence defensively and on the glass while Zydrunas Ilgauskas is also an effective big body. 

On the season, O'Neal is averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.3 minutes. He appeared in just 37 games for the Celtics.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 8:02 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 8:10 pm
 

LeBron James: Talk that he's a quitter is 'corny'

LeBron James does not agree with the statement that he quit against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Posted by Ben Golliver. lebron-james

Who could forget one of the greatest playoff meltdowns in NBA history? After torching the Boston Celtics twice in the second round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, then Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James pulled a disappearing act in his team's three straight losses to close the series. His Game 5 performance was by far the worst, when he scored 15 points on 3-for-14 shooting in 41 minutes, looking listless and disengaged throughout.

That performance led Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to criticize James after he signed with the Miami Heat during free agency. Gilbert memorably said that James "quit" and that line of criticism was popular among Cavaliers' fans thinking during James' two trips to Cleveland this season.

On Saturday, one day before James' Heat are scheduled to face the Celtics in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Heat Index reports James' response to the idea that he quit last season.
"That's corny," James said. "I don't understand that type of stuff."
Last year's loss, however, apparently has given James extra motivation.
"It is personal," James said. "You don't want to keep getting beat by the same team; the same team sending you home to plan vacations."
James does all sorts of corny things -- the pre-game photo routine, his chalk toss, The Decision, wearing a head band on tilt to hide his receding hairline -- so he is an expert on this subject. 

In this case, though, he's essentially correct. Gilbert is the definition of corny. The comic sans fiasco. The misogynistic tweets about media members. The whole "barring LeBron's posse from the parking lot" incident. Corny, corny, corny. 

Plus, criticizing James' performance in the 2010 playoffs has run its course. That well of ammunition has run dry. It's so last year. He bounced back with an MVP-caliber season and is on a new team, one with its own flaws and issues to nitpick. 

And that's the beauty about this week's Heat-Celtics series. James can either get his revenge against all the critics by winning, or he can launch a whole new round of attacks upon his character and his abilities as a basketball player should the Heat be unable to get over the Celtics hump. 
Posted on: April 30, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Does anyone else get the sense that Game 1 is really, really important in this series? Either way, a tone is getting set. Either the Heat make a statement that things have changed and they're ready for the Celtics or Boston makes one saying it's more of the status quo.

Heck, package it in even tighter than that. The first six minutes of this game could say a whole lot about it. There's going to be a real mental aspect to this series and every little play is going to feel extremely large. I still haven't wrapped my head around this just being the Eastern Conference Semifinals yet.

The X-Factor: It's Rajon Rondo. There's absolutely no doubt about it. Miami has no one to guard him and with him getting his feel and command back against the Knicks, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra likely haven't slept the last 72 hours. The good Rondo changes every little thing about this series. If he's keyed in, breaking down the Miami defense and distributing, it's hard to see how the Heat can guard Boston for 48 minutes.

The Adjustment: Would Spoelstra dare get creative with his matchups? Mario Chalmers was good in Game 5 for the Heat, but could we see a lot of Dwyane Wade on Rondo? Of course now you've got to account for Ray Allen, but I get the feeling Mike Bibby and Chalmers have a better chance chasing Allen off screens than they do slowing Rondo off the dribble.

The Sticking Point: The season series tilted 3-1 in Boston's favor with the one Miami win coming when Rondo was in his post-Perk funk and the Celtics slipping a bit as a team. Hard to really take too much from that. Except maybe that the Heat built some confidence. I mean, remember at All-Star Weekend when James Jones beat Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the 3-point contest and said, "We finally beat you guys in something. " To that point, the Celtics were in their heads. Maybe just that simple regular season win has removed some of that doubt.

The Celtics conceded home court in this series with a poor finish. Not that Miami has a great advantage there (Fan Up, amirite?) but still, it's called "advantage" for a reason. Starting at home fresh off that win could be a big thing for the Heat. And with this first game, the first six minutes, heck the first possession being big, that could be the edge the Heat need to get started right.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Expert Picks: Eastern Conference Semifinals

Our CBSSports.com expert picks leaderboard and predictions for the second round.

Posted by EOB staff. 

After one of the best first-rounds ever, here's where we stand, prior to Friday night's Grizzlies-Spurs game, which is irrelevant, since none of us picked the Grizzlies, because we're not prescient or insane, and no one even thought they'd make it to a seventh game. 

Expert Scores
Expert Right Wrong Bonus Total
Matt Moore 6 2 2 14
Ben Golliver 6 2 1 13
Jamey Eisenberg 6 2 1 13
Ken Berger 6 2 0 12
Sergio Gonzalez 5 3 2 12
Royce Young 5 3 2 12


And here's our picks for the Conference Semifinals in the East. We'll have full predictions later. 


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com